Last week brought us lots of Geeky Outsidery awesome. So, we decided to consolidate it all into one giant post of awesome to get your geek on and week started off right. Happy Sunday!
Gotta headline with this week’s best news! Amandla Stenberg, that dope actress who played Rue in the Hunger Games, will be joining the cast of SleepyHollow! After a less-than-awesome (read, horribly racist) experience after her Hunger Games debut, it puts a huge smile on the geek gods faces to see this great tiny actress join a diverse cast on a fun show with an awesome dynamic Black female lead. Win.
Speaking of winning, Marvel gave us the gift of a new badass superhero. The teenage shapeshifter from Jersey will be debuting in her own title series as the new Ms. Marvel in February 2014! Real name Kamala Khan, this young new superhero grew up in Jersey but has Pakistani roots and joins the ranks of the few Muslim superheroes in mainstream comics! Written by G. Willow Wilson, Khan made her first appearance in last week’s Captain Marvel #17(yep. Go get it!). (via CBR)
Awesome freelance artists (and video game industry professionals!) Audran Guerard and Daniel Roy had the beautiful idea to put together a graphic novel adaptation of the life of Frederick Douglass. Based on his two biographies The Life of Frederick Douglass: A Graphic Novelwill be published as two 50-page volumes featuring some beautiful watercolor art. Support ’em (and dibs a copy!) on Kickstarter.
Marvel is bringing Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones to the small screen! Specifically, they signed a deal with Netflix for four separate new live-action TV series, one for each of the characters. And here’s the dope – these four shows will lead to a team-up in a miniseries for TheDefenders! (via IGN)
Featuring one of the most diverse superteams ever, Al Ewing and Greg Land’sMighty Avengershas been one of the most anticipated comics of the Fall, and this first issue matches the hype with a just the right dose of action and a rich introduction to our new team’s leaders and the motivations of the new team-up.
Brian Michael Bendis really developed the character and storyline for Luke Cage in his New Avengersrun, daring to do something few creators have worked into superhero plotlines — giving him a wife and a child, which not unexpectedly resulted in his retiring from the Avengers. But that didn’t sideline him completely. Cage has still very much been a part of Marvel storylines, presenting a conflicts of interest and new motivations for the character regarding his new role as a family man.
This issue really draws those strings together and gives us a relatable and real reason for Cage’s desire to lead a team again. Aside from the fact that the regular line-up of Avengers is busy fighting alien militia in space, Cage really wants to get back in the game to make his family proud. The brief glimpse we get of Cage’s relationship with the young hothead Powerman promises an interesting dynamic between the two, something of father-son like mentorship that is clearly impacted by Cage’s new role as a father.
In this issue we also get a solid look at the return of Monica Rambeau, who’s underuse in the Marvel universe over that past 10 years has been criminal. An incredibly powerful hero and a smart leader with an interesting backstory, Monica was the first Black female superhero to have her own self-titled comic in Captain Marvelin the late 80’s.
After leading the Avengers in the 80’s when she was Captain Marvel, she quit when she briefly lost her powers and returned to her hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite an appearance as the leader of the C-list superhero team in Nextwave,Monica never really quite made it back to prominence. It seems an odd fate for such a smart and incredibly powerful hero. Ewing and Land’sMighty Avengers aims to bring her back with a vengeance… and a perm.
(Not gonna lie, it seems a little out of character to see Monica, who’s always sported natural hair, with her new straightened shaggy bob cut. But it’s great to see her back, no matter the hairstyle.)
In this first issue, Ewing and Land certainly captured just how powerful Monica is, as well as her very serious dedication to her duty as a hero. Despite her new costume and her brand new moniker (that one can only hope she’ll manage to hang on to this time) as Spectrum, she’s still the same amazing Monica.
This issue hints at many of the tensions and dynamics we’ll have to look forward to throughout the series, including that between Luke Cage and Superior Spider-man, who seems anything but on board when the makings of a team start to come together as Thanos’ thugs attack New York. Otto Octavius’s snarky egotism is bound to clash with Cage’s no-nonsense leadership. And the youngins on the team, White Tiger and Powerman, already seem to have a clash of ideas about what it means to be a superhero.
Add to all that our mystery Ronin who Monica seems to have a bit of a past with, and this first issue has knotted this team together intricately and it’s looking to be a ton of fun to unravel.
With Ewing’s historical love for two of the most dynamic Marvel heroes Luke Cage and Monica, it looks like we’re in for a lot more than trash talk and jaw breaking. Mighty Avengers #1demonstrates that Ewing and Land intend to continue the focus on rich character development that Bendis brought to New Avengers. And here’s hoping we see the creative team bring up the tough issues with this awesomely diverse cast of heroes.
Verdict: Get it! Even if you’re a trade buyer, you’re gonna want to own #1 when this series gets all epic. A must-read.
In case you missed it, this past week Marvel announced a relaunch of an old team with a brand new cast of superheroes. In September this year, an all-new Mighty Avengers will hit the stands, featuring one of the most ethnically diverse casts to see the shine of a single-issue cover. The team includes Luke Cage, Monica Rambeau, Blue Marvel, White Tiger, Power Man, Ronin, She-Hulk, Superior Spider-Man, and Falcon.
That’s a long awesome list of superheroes from all over the Marvel universe, so we thought we’d give a little primer on who’s who for anyone who needs it. Also an excuse to talk about how awesome this team sounds!
Let’s start with the lesser known characters on the squad…
First appearing in 2008 in Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel #1, a five-issue mini-series, Blue Marvel (aka Adam Brashear) is a relatively new character in the Marvel universe. Created by screenwriter Kevin Grevious (Underworld), Brashear is a former Marine and a veteran of the Korean War, and he has a PhD in Theoretical Physics. During an experiment to develop clean energy went wrong, Brashear is exposed to radiation that turns him into Blue Marvel, endowing him with some of the most incredible powers in the Marvel universe, including flight, regeneration and near invulnerability, super-strength, speed, stamina, and heightened sense. He can also absorb and manipulate energy in various ways He’s so powerful that he was able to go up against the Sentry, which, if you don’t know the Sentry, is a huge deal.
Wearing a full-face-covering helmet, it was not known in the 60s that Blue Marvel was black. After this was revealed in an attack, then President John F. Kennedy asked Blue Marvel to retire, and the hero conceded. Coming to regret this concession later, Brashear returned to action.
The Power Man title has been used by various superheroes over time, including Luke Cage back in the 1970’s. The current Power Man is Victor Alvarez who first appeared in Dark Reign: The List – Daredevil #1in 2010, but doesn’t get his full story until appearing in Shadowland: Power Man#1, which ended after 4 issues. After surviving the deliberate demolition of his building, Victor began using his superpowers as a self-employed hero for hire and eventually took the name Power Man, which, naturally, caught Luke Cage’s attention. He’s been known to dislike Cage, considering him a “sell-out”, so the two working together in Mighty Avengers should be interesting… The son of a supervillain named Shades, Alvarez has the ability to draw energy from those around him thereby gaining super-strength and durability. He was most recently enrolled as a student in Avengers Academy and appeared in several issues of the now discontinued Avengers Academyseries.
Here’s another youngin… Several heroes have taken the White Tiger name. The current White Tiger is Ava Ayala, the younger sister of the first White Tiger Hector Ayala and her Latino heritage is very important to her. She first appeared in Avengers Academy #20in 2011. She inherited the jade amulet that gave her her powers after her aunt Angela del Toro, the previous White Tiger relinquished the amulet. The amulet gives her powers of super agility, strength and speed, making her an incredible fighter. She also has the ability to camouflage herself.
Monica Rambeau (Spectrum)
MONICA RAMBEAU! This superhero is a personal favorite, and one’s who hasn’t seen much action lately. After gaining her powers, Monica Rambeau initially went by the name Captain Marvel. She’s been through a saga trying get a name to stick and has gone through many, including Pulsar and Photon and now it looks like she’s going by Spectrum. Let’s hope this one sticks. Formerly a lieutenant in the New Orleans harbor patrol, Monica gained her powers when confronting a criminal trying to unleash a dangerous weapon. Her exposure to the explosion gave her the ability to transform herself into any form of energy and project that energy to inflict physical damage. These powers are incredibly powerful, but also taxing, and she can wear herself out and need to recharge. She was eventually recruited to the Avengers, becoming the first Black team member and eventually becoming the team’s leader in the 80’s. After temporarily losing her powers and returning to her hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana to work for the family business, Monica had a brief stint in her own self-titled comic, before going on to lead a team of C-level superheroes in the hilarious comic Nextwave.It’s good to see her kicking it with the big-guys again.
One of the better known characters on the team and also, like Monica Rambeau, a classic Marvel superhero, Falcon first appeared Captain American #117back in 1969 as the first Black American superhero in mainstream comics. Stan Lee was the co-creator of the character. Black Panther made his wing harness that allows him to fly, and the hero can boast being trained by Captain America himself whom he teamed up with in New York. He later joined the Avengers officially. Always having a strong interest in birds, Samuel Thomas Wilson adopted a wild falcon that he named Redwing. In a confrontation with the Red Skull, Wilson becomes empathically bonded with Redwing when the Red Skull used the Cosmic Cube. His affinity and bond with birds only grew over the years, making him more and more powerful. He now has power over all birds. He’s maintained a close relationship with Captain America and the Avengers throughout the decades.
Soo… huge spoilers if you haven’t been following, but… With the end of Amazing Spider-Man in issue #700, Peter Parker more or less died-ish, and Otto Octavius’ mind was transplanted into Peter Parker’s body. Since ten Octavius has been on a quest to prove himself better than Parker, taking down baddies and hitting on Mary Jane. But it turns out some part of Parker’s mind is still in there somewhere, and he’s got a tiny bit of control…
Jennifer Walters is Bruce Banner’s cousin. She became She-Hulk when she received a blood-transfusion from her cousin, giving her powers similar to the Hulk’s but at a reduced level. One of the busiest characters in comics, she’s been on numerous Marvel teams and is also a part-time lawyer, taking on mostly superhero-related cases and often engaging in activist efforts. After sorting out her own rage issues, she eventually decided to stay permanently in the She-Hulk state rather than changing back to her original appearance. After being accidentally exposed to radiation, her She-Hulk state became physically permanent anyway. She first appeared in Savage She-Hulk #1 in 1980 and has most recently been seen in Matt Fraction‘s FF filling in, alongside other superheros, for the original Fantastic Four members while they’re away.
Another iconic Marvel character, Luke Cage has been a major player in the Marvel universe since his first appearance in his own self-titled comic in 1972 Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1.Sent for prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he consented to an experimentation in exchange for parole, and, unpredicted by the scientists, the experiment gave him unbreakable skin. Upon being released he began using his powers for money, selling protection and heroics. He later begins working with the Defenders, before settling in with the Heroes-for-Hire team led by Iron Fist. Eventually he joins the New Avengers where he meets his now wife, and former superhero, Jessica Jones. After the two married and had a kid, he cut back on his superhero activities to be a dad and protect his family.
The first Ronin was revealed to be Echo (aka Maya Lopez), when she was recruited to help out the New Avengers on a special mission in Japan. Hawkeye (aka Clint Barton) later took the name briefly after Echo was taken by The Hand. And finally Black Widow’s ex-husband Alexei Shostakov assumed the identity in an attempt to assassinate Black Widow. Marvel’s announcement indicated that there will be a totally new Ronin joining the Mighty Avengers this September… Who could it be?!
The Promiscuous “Captain Marvel” Title & It’s Legacy of “Cosmic Awareness”
Though her ties to the original Captain Marvel go back several decades, Carol Danvers only recently became the latest in a long legacy of superheros to take on the “Captain Marvel” moniker. She dumped her long out-dated name “Ms. Marvel” in order to fly under the banner of the respected “Captain Marvel” title in her own comic, which debuted just last year. Now in issue #11, Captain Marvel, under the creative direction of the much-admired comics writer Kelly Sue Deconnick, has taken this 70’s women’s liberation icon and given her pants, some kick-ass lady friends, and some menacing super headaches…
And these headaches literally grounded her when her doctor forbade the high-flying superheroine (and former pilot) to use her flight abilities. But this isn’t the first time that headaches have been the crime-fighter’s biggest foe.
Back in 1977, shortly after the super-strong flying wonder Ms. Marvel made her debut on the
superhero scene, the young Carol Danvers, unaware of her Ms. Marvel alter-ego, is a newbie editor at Womanmagazine. She only recently acquired the gig after losing her security position when she got caught in the crossfire of a fight between superhero Mar-Vell (aka Captain Marvel) and his foe Yon-Rogg. Since then, she’s had recurrent headaches that cause her to blackout.
We come to find out that Carol was saved by Captain Marvel when a Kree technology device blew up. He protected her from the explosion, but could not protect her from the energy radiation spewing from the device. The radiation put Carol in the hospital and transformed her into Ms. Marvel. Like Captain Marvel’s “cosmic awareness” trait (more on that below), Carol inherited a “seventh sense” that triggers the transformation into her Ms. Marvel superhero form whenever there is danger nearby. It’s this seventh sense that’s the cause of Ms. Danvers’ headaches.
This “seventh sense” sounds a lot like Spidey-sense, right? However, though Spider-man predated Ms. Marvel by a little more than a decade, this “seventh sense” is actually a inferior version of the “cosmic awareness” power that Mar-Vell himself was gifted with in his role as “protector of the universe”. He gained this ability and the role by defending the earth against a racist tyrannical empire. His “cosmic awareness” allowed him to detect any events in the universe that would affect him in any way.It’s this “cosmic awareness” that I’d argue connects the various superheroes who’ve carried the Captain Marvel banner (and the socially aware creative minds behind them) throughout Marvel history.
While Mar-Vell was able to act upon this “cosmic awareness” by will, this 1970’s version of Ms. Marvel is physically compelled to act. For her, it acts as a sort of call to duty that literally forcibly transforms Carol Danvers into Ms. Marvel and drives the superheroine to fight in the name of justice.
And that’s just what she does… er, did, before the comic was cancelled in 1979 after 23 issues. Between 1977 and 1979, Ms. Marvel fought aliens and super-powered criminals on the pages of her self-titled comic. And as one of few female-led self-titled comics, Ms.Marvelstruggled and grew with the strengthening women’s equality movement. Over the course of 23 issues, she got costume a makeover that covered up her conspicuously revealed mid-section, and then changed again, with a brand new color scheme, to liberate her from the association with Captain Marvel.
It was a fair enough association after all, since she became Ms. Marvel when her genetic makeup fused with that of Captain Marvel’s when, while he protected her from the explosion, both were exposed to Kree technology radiation, endowing her with Captain Marvel’s Kree powers. So, you know, he didn’t exactly give her a rib, but a DNA fuse is kinda a couple steps up from that. Kinda funny a feminist superhero was all but birthed by a man, a super man.
Nonetheless, it was obvious what the creators and Marvel were trying to do with this character. Hell, her first transformation occurred while she was cooking dinner, quite literally taking her out of the kitchen and into the fight… again, literally.
Discussions about the character’s role in the feminist movement peppered the letters section of the comic, Carol Danvers as editor of Woman magazine stood up to a misogynist J. Jonah Jameson (of The Daily Bugle), and she pounded on a number of bad guys who scoffed at her being woman.
In issue #3, Ms. Marvel visits the scene of her origin and is flooded with memories that help her realize that she is also Carol Danvers. The two personalities unify, realizing they have always been one and the same. This easily represents the 1970’s woman’s realization of her personal empowerment.
Carol Danvers blacks out in her kitchen
…and becomes Ms. Marvel!
After her comic was cancelled in 1979, Ms. Marvel continued to play an important role in other Marvel comics, mixin’ it up with the Avengers and the X-men, including a stint as S.H.I.E.L.D Director in the Ultimate universe, before she got a self-titled relaunch from 2006-2010.
And now, detecting the cosmic shifts in the universe that have led to the empowerment of a new generation of women and comics fans, Ms. Marvel has traded in her swimsuit costume for pants (and even a turtleneck at that!), ditched the “Ms.”, and has taken up the mantel as Captain Marvel, her third chance at a self-titled comic.
However… This isn’t the first time a woman has flown under the banner of Captain Marvel, nor the first time a female Captain Marvel has gotten her own comic. In fact, after the original Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell himself) passed away from cancer in 1982, and while Ms. Marvel was still sporting her black bathing suit, MonicaRambeau, formerly a lieutenant in the New Orleans harbor patrol, emerged on the scene kicking ass and taking names so hard that the media started calling her CaptainMarvel, before she even had time to come up with a name for herself.She reluctantly accepted the name with encouragement from fellow superheroes who felt that she was worthy of Mar-Vell’s legacy.
As Captain Marvel (only the second superhero at this point to take the name), Monica fought alongside the Avengers, and eventually she was elected the Chairwoman and leader of the Avengers. With the ability to transform herself into any form of energy and project that energy to inflict physical damage, Monica Rambeau is extremely powerful, but her powers are also physically taxing. Eventually she loses her powers and returns to New Orleans with her family.
And this is where we meet her when she debuts as the first Black superheroine to lead her own self-titled comic in Captain Marvel Vol. 2 #1, written by Dwayne McDuffie of
Milestone comics fame. Monica may not have had Captain Marvel’s cosmic awareness or even Ms. Marvel’s seventh sense, but Dwayne McDuffie saw an opportunity in writing her. This new Captain Marvelwas only supposed to be a one-shot issue, but actually got 2 issues, and McDuffie took full advantage of every single page, putting race and gender issues center-stage throughout the character’s stories, even including quotes by famous Black women, like Zora Neale Hurston and Audre Lorde. You’d have to be cosmically blind to miss it.
In the treatment of the character in the Avengers, gender was sometimes brought up, but rarely race. In the issue where Rambeau accepts leadership of the Avengers, we get a dose of gender discrimination is a flashback with her former boss. We get a dose of racial issues too, but not via. Rambeau, rather She-Hulk is turned down from leasing an apartment because she is green!
However, with McDuffie at the helm, race became front-and-center. The first issue was much much subtler than the second, which was published 5 years later, but issue #1 still had more Black and brown characters sharing the page than we ever saw in an Avengers comic in the 80’s & 90’s.
In issue #2, however… McDuffie really went to town. The cover itself is more radical, featuring in big bold type the title of the issue “Free Your Mind” and a No-Hate symbol is stashed under the Marvel icon. The story features Monica intervening when a white supremacist hate-group on a college campus starts violently assaulting students of color.
She is initially recruited to protect a young Black man who is organizing a multiracial group of students to set up a patrol and fight back to keep minority students safe. Things of course just aren’t that simple, since the hate group’s managed to nab some alien tech that puts the hurt on pretty hard. So Rambeau has to go all energy storm on them. She even gets the chance to make an inspired self-love speech and quote Audre Lorde.
After her two-issue spotlight, and now that she’s got her powers back, Rambeau continues fighting crime and super badguys as a reservist for the Avengers. She doesn’t get to keep the name, however.
It turns out Mar-Vell had a son, Genis-Vell, and now that he’s come of age and folk started calling him Captain Marvel in honor of his father, Monica concedes the name to him and goes by Photon instead.
Sadly that doesn’t last too long either, when Genis-Vell forgets that Monica is calling herself Photon and adopts the name himself. She confronts him, but concedes again and decides to go by Pulsar. How terribly ironic. Monica is intimately familiar with Audre Lorde’s work enough to quote her. I wonder if she’s ever read Zami: A New Spelling Of My Name… Just sayin’. These days the superheroine is mostly known as just Monica…
Genis-Vell‘s stint as Captain Marvel is marked by the intergalactic superheroics of his father’ s legacy. Until his cosmic awareness kicks in, drives him insane because it’s too much to handle, and he destroys the universe. Apparently awareness is just too much for some folk. He’s able to restore the universe, but there are some slight differences, including that he now has a sister that didn’t exist before, Phyla-Vell.
Phyla-Vell makes her claim on the Captain Marvel title and wears it well for awhile, really rather aggressively protecting the universe. Where Monica Rambeau’s stint as Captain Marvel granted some commentary on race issues, Phyla-Vell becomes the token lesbian to take the title. Her sexual orientation is hinted at for a while until she finally asks Moondragon out on date. Eventually she ditches the name and goes on to become first Qausar and eventually Martyr, fighting alongside the Gaurdians of the Galaxy.
After Phyla-Vell gives up the name, a Skrull create a sleeper agent Khn’nr is created using Mar-Vell’s DNA, in order to spy on the Kree. However, the Skrull kinda botch the job and Khn’nr’s personality is wiped out leaving only the valiant Mar-Vell’s personality. So Khn’nr actually genuinely believes he is Captain Marvel, and he’s already been genetically altered to look the part so… Confusion ensues; he has some serious identity crises. He does all the good guy save-the-world stuff that Captain Marvel would’ve done, and before he bites it, he passes the title on to Noh-Varr.
Aside from Monica Rambeau, Noh-Varris the only one who isn’t in some way genetically connected to the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell, so he lacks the “cosmic awareness” that the others had (or struggled with).
This is why he’s unable to sense that Norman Osborn isn’t the good guy, so he naively joins Osborn’s Dark Avengers team as the new Captain Marvel. Eventually he figures it all out and turns to the goodguys with a brand new name and costume, becoming Protector, and freeing up the Captain Marvel moniker for Ms. Marvel to finally, after all these years, take her turn at the name.
So far she’s done justice to the legacy. Her “seventh sense” doesn’t play a huge role in this new Captain Marvel series, but as one of the still few leading ladies with self-titled comic (where she gets to wear clothes!), Captain Marvel continues to keep an ear to the pulse of the world, and representing today’s more diverse comics readers, a good chunk of whom are women, of which at least most are badass, snarky, and, if they could, would totally punch a dinosaur in the face in typical superhero fashion…
Shazam punching a dinosaur!
Superman punches a dinosaur
Captain Marvel punches a dinosaur
Hawkeye arrows a dinosaur
Funny enough, real reason there have been so many Captain Marvels is so that Marvel can hold on to the trademark. Fair enough, but seriously could poor Monica could get a name for keepsies…?